February 2005

One of the many things I love about James–and there’s no shortage, James is an absurdly wonderful person, and I occasionally contemplate that I am stupidly lucky in that regard–but one more thing on the pile is that I can IM him at work out of the blue and say “Come home for lunch! I need the car! I’m having an art supply crisis!” and he will say “Okay, I’ll be there a little after noon.” There is no question that an art supply crisis is a perfectly valid and deeply horrible thing to be having, which must be addressed immediately and could not possibly wait until tomorrow. I need to blow money on art supplies that may or may not be the right thing but which I absolutely positively must try on this particular piece RIGHT NOW or else? Not a problem.

He respects my art, which is a good thing, but he also respects the…mm…the vagaries of the process, the fact that my brain sometimes fires up and I really need to do this RIGHT NOW or suffer a hideous fate, that art sometimes takes over and cannot be dropped. If I was an obsessive compulsive instead of an artist, James would help me check all the doorknobs forty times before I slept, because hey, that’s just what needs to be done. And I suspect that this may be a rarer thing, and I’m grateful for it.

I keep noodling around with these abstract backgrounded study thingies. I’m not sure why. Something must be percolating in t’old hindbrain. I hope. Until it deigns to make itself known, I’m left with lots of weird little studies, which for lack of anything else to do, I’m inflicting upon my long-suffering public.

Here’s a wolverine from the Minnesota zoo…

The cover for Chapter Four of Digger, “Metaphors and Machinations” is up for auction. It does not feature our wombat heroine, but instead a terribly minor character that I felt the need to memorialize. (The nice thing about webcomics is that the covers aren’t all that important in a newsstand sense, so if I need to do a cover of a metaphorical pigeon because I feel bad for killing one off a few pages ago, I can!)


In case anybody’s not following Digger (and I’ll just stick my fingers in my ears and assuming you’re holding out for the print version! LALALALALA!) it won’t give away anything much to say that the metaphorical pigeons are messengers for the talking statue of the god Ganesh, who has a thing with rats.

Vanwatch — Day 4

The back of the van is gone. The front leans drunkenly forward on its bumper. The engine has migrated across the lawn to the OTHER van on blocks. I thought that perhaps it was seeking a new host, and James finally went out and asked what in the name of bunnies was up, and had a pleasant conversation with the neighbors, wherein it was revealed that the van is going to have a motley afterlife.

The back bed is, indeed, being carved into a trailer of some sort (one hopes they take off the door frames in the process.)

The engine will be put in the other van. (This counts as seeking a new host, right?)

The front end will eventually reach the junkyard.

Alas, no outsider art. James did ask about the possibility of outdoor sculpture, but ‘pears it’s not to be.

Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted.

Vanwatch — Day 3.5

The van has undergone a second transformation. I glanced out the window earlier and thought “Hmm…seems…longer…?” I went out to get the mail, baffled, and discovered that the van is now in two seperate pieces. The cab, lacking seating, engine, or indeed floor, is now leaning forward drunkenly on two wheels. Since the engine is on the ground in front of the cab, and the hood is gaping open, the impression is that the van just vomited. The back half, several feet down the drive, contains the bed and, for some peculiar reason, half of the frame for the doors, jutting upwards like a lone rib, and is being supported reasonably level by means of a jack. Upon this is supported The Mystery Box, one of the seats, and a great many tools, plus a radio blaring pop music.

Vanwatch — Day 3

The driver’s side seat has been ripped out (but not the passenger seat.) Engine has been extracted, presumably relocated to somewhere on the lawn. Some sort of small wooden box has been erected over the passenger back wheel hump, but not the driver’s side back wheel hump. Neighbor is standing hunched over in the cab, where the driver’s seat used to be, fumbling at the steering wheel.

All of my guesses, so far, have been negated–if they’re trying to make a functional car, why is the engine gone? If they’re breaking it down piece by piece for eventual destruction, why build the wooden box over the wheel well?

Outsider art. It’s all I can think of.

Got a check in the mail today. Was excited when I saw the return address, popped it open, and became rapidly less excited. Looks like the project was scrapped, they activated the kill fee clause, and I got a fraction of what I was expecting.

The work was done a long time ago, so the outrage is significantly blunted–a grumbled “Oh, bugger,” instead of falling dramatically to my knees and screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! BUUGGGGGGERRRRR!” at the uncaring skies–but still. That’s the problem with freelancing…for the same investment of time and energy, I could make originals worth ten times that. The question is always whether or not they’ll sell. Of course, with freelancing, the question is always whether or not they’ll pay!

I’ve done 12 originals since the year began, and six sold (one hasn’t gone up yet, but I have high hopes.) Plus a Big Older Piece is in the process of selling. That’s not a bad track record on originals so far this year, particularly granted that January and February are supposed to be dead (January was actually pretty rockin’, but there were royalties and those print sets and whatnot.) Income from freelance work and commissions has, so far, been minimal. While I still have covers and commissions on my plate, I’m definitely moving more towards the straight sales side of things, and the projects-of-my-own, and I’m glad of that, particularly at times like this.

The van has…evolved. The giant hole in the side eventually, in a twisted and mauled fashion, turned into the entire back two-thirds. The van is now a flatbed. There is metal around the cab yet, but the rest has been cut down to the floor and the wheel humps. The sheet of metal that used to be much of the vehicle is flung haphazardly across the lawn in a great wing of sharp-edged bits, like an offering to the Gods of Tetanus.


I feel like I’m trapped in a Tom Waits song.

Generally this only happens on long car rides across the Midwest, where after about five hundred miles and several gallons of coffee, my brain gets stuck in “Gun Street Girl.” (I blame Waukeegan.) In this case, however, I am living a peculiar suburban version of “What’s He Building In There?”

My neighbor has this van. It was a white van at one point. Now it is that peculiar unsaturated non-color that comes to white vans that have not bathed in several years. The van has not run in years, and was once in the back side yard. Once a month, a solemn ritual was enacted whereby the neighbor and his son come out with the Ceremonial Jumper Cables, fiddle under the hood, perform the Ancient And Terrible Rite Of Trying To Start The Van, discover that, like the last five months, the gods are still angry and will not speak, and then go back in the house.

The van has four flat tires. Somehow, while James and I were out, it was dragged backward about ten yards to the front driveway, where it has been for several months. We do not know if the gods decided to grace the van with brief mobility, or if the worshippers simply hauled it, like laborers on the Pyramids dragging an oddly shaped limestone block, but somehow the van moved.

Yesterday, strange noises erupted from the neighbor’s yard. We spent all day holed up playing World of Warcraft (Horde, Tauren druid, Aurocha, on Cenarion Circle, feel free to say hi) and it’s too cold to keep the windows open, so what we heard were strange muffled sounds loud enough to pierce the walls–hammering, banging, and the distant scream of tortured metal. The band Savage Aural Hotbed (which probably nobody else has heard of) would be proud. It went on, and on, and on.

James eventually went out for provisions and returned. “Say–” I said, “did you happen to see what the neighbors are–”

“Yes. You’re not going to believe it.”

“Are they trying to fix it?”

“They’re cutting a giant hole in the side, actually.”

I am baffled. I do not know automotive anything, so I cannot concieve of why one would take a saw to the side of one’s non-functional van to carve a giant hole in it. Perhaps they’re installing a porch. I must await further developments.

A quick little study of one of the local birds, which I have been noodling around on as stress relief from the whole thingy thing.


Someday, in that perfect world of free time that I hope to inhabit, I will have time to do studies of all the local birds. I don’t really care enough about the backgrounds to do a full set of wildlife paintings–I mean, I can only get excited about my suet feeder in so many ways–but some little portraits of all the little birds would be neat, given how much pleasure I derive from watching them.

The squirrels, on the other hand…that might get a little grotesque.

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